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History of the Parrilla

From time immemorial, food is one thing that has remained central to all civilizations and cultures. The history of food is as old as humans themselves. The art of cooking, though, was learnt much later but there was no stopping us once we started. Different techniques, different cuisines and so many different flavours were brought to life.

One such technique of cooking that is now popular worldwide is the Argentinian art of cooking Asados on a Parrilla. A parrilla is a metallic grill used in Argentinian cooking. It is very similar to a modern day barbeque but is a very old, authentic Latin American culinary technique. The modern parrilla is a cast iron grill that can be adjusted to the desired height. The grill cooks on a slow, open fire that is usually created using charcoal.

The Parrilla is also sometimes called the Gaucho Grill, Argentinian Grill, Santa Maria Grill or even Uruguayan Grill.

Smokin Gauchos Gaucho 2

The parrilla and the technique of cooking Asados dates back deep into Argentina’s history. In the 1500s cattle was first brought to the country by the Spanish. This is when the Argentinians were introduced to beef and started to develop ways of cooking the meat. The cattle herding men in the Argentinian Pampas, known as Gauchos, needed a makeshift arrangement for cooking their meat and that is how the parrilla was created. It was a simple cast iron grill that would cook meat on the low heat provided by burning charcoal.

The Gauchos would use every cut of beef no matter how large or small. To cook large cuts, a slow burning, steady heat was needed. As there was no dearth of wood or open spaces, they devised this method of cooking on a parrilla. Pits were dug in the ground where they would burn wood. When the flame died down, they would place the parrilla, or grill, over the pit full of smoldering embers and put the meat on top for slow grilling.

This technique of slow cooking gradually entered every Argentinian home and is now a part of their identity.